Giving leaders room to grow

Retail Gets Real episode 209: Best Buy’s commitment to equal representation across the company

Civil unrest comprised of protests against systemic racism over the last year has led to a movement among corporate America. Retailers are among those beginning to have conversations about uncomfortable issues, relying on action as accountability.

Mark Irvin is the chief inclusion, diversity and talent officer at Best Buy, where he leads the retailer’s vision of equal representation at all levels of the company.

With a background in the military, Irvin was prepared for a role focused on understanding teams, removing obstacles and creating an experience where people can be their absolute best.

Fear often prevents leaders from taking the first step in addressing inequality, Irvin says, and promoting inclusion involves creating a space for open dialogue. Leaders have to become uncomfortable to lead authentically when it comes to inclusivity.

Best Buy is developing leaders by holding candid conversations and giving people the grace to make mistakes, learn and be better. The retailer uses “inclusive leadership behaviors” that position individuals to effectively empathize rather than sympathize, so they can make effective change.

Diversity and inclusion

Learn how other retailers are committing to diversity and inclusion in their workforces.

“If we all come to the table with this sense of vulnerability, courage, empathy, grace, we show up that way,” Irvin says. “It allows us to make some mistakes. It allows us to get uncomfortable.”

The retailer is also leveraging its unique position in the tech market to help create social change. Best Buy is expanding its teen tech centers, which give young people in disadvantaged communities access to the latest technology and is a move toward improving tech equity in communities. The tech centers also provide opportunities for young community members to access scholarships, training and employment opportunities.

Listen to this episode for more insights on Best Buy’s approach to growing a diverse talent pool and leading in inclusion and equity.

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